Tag Archives: autism

Understanding and Preventing an Aspergers Meltdown

For those of you who are unaware, Aspergers is also called High-Functioning Autism.  Researchers say that people who have aspergers have brains that are wired differently and this “invisible syndrome” affects communication, social interaction as well as sensory issues. One of the most common events that go on in a day in the life of a child with aspergers is a meltdown.  When dealing with a problem, these children internalize everything and then eventually boil over in a rage, which then leads to a meltdown. Now, this may sound like a typical temper tantrum, but for a child and the family of that child, a temper tantrum would be a blessing compared to the gravity of the meltdowns that occur.

            A lot of the time, children with aspergers are thought to be over-receptive or under-receptive. They may be comfortable with one thing but not another, that is closely related to the first.  Many children with aspergers prefer rougher play, and have a high tolerance for pain, but become extremely uncomfortable with gentler treatment. Because of this thought-to-be hypersensitivity, parents and teachers usually end up recommending vision and hearing exams amongst other unnecessary evaluations.

            There are said to be 9 different temperaments that children with aspergers usually have. The 9 temperaments are: distractible, high intensity level, hyperactive, initial withdrawal, irregular, low sensory threshold, negative mood, negative persistent and poor adaptability.

            Meltdowns can be caused by anything from a minor incident, to a traumatic event. There are differences with a temper tantrum and a meltdown, when a meltdown occurs, the only way for a child to calm down is to either get exhausted (which also leaves the caregiver just as exhausted, if not more) or the child gains control of their emotions, which doesn’t happen most of the time and is very difficult for the child to achieve on their own. With a temper tantrum, children usually calm down quickly, whereas a child with aspergers will wail and throw a fit for extremely long periods of time.

            One big part of learning to cope is realizing that children with Aspergers usually don’t know or realize that their outbursts are inappropriate or exaggerated. At around age 8 or 9, it is recommended that parents talk to their child, only when they are calm, and mature enough to realize and understand that they have these outbursts, on how to control them and deal with things in a better way. Maybe developing a hand signal or sign to let the child know they are conducting inappropriate behavior. Don’t punish the child for having a meltdown, children with aspergers do not respond well to overwhelming emotions or aggressive punishments. If the child says they want to be left alone, do as they ask, checking back in on them is okay, but children with this syndrome like coping with emotions by themselves. Many children don’t like surprises or to be touched. When children without aspergers may hurt themselves and need a hug, those with aspergers may be sent deeper into their rage by the sudden and possibly unwanted physical contact.

            Here, at Shema Kolainu, we promote parental interaction at home to ensure the child’s developmental needs continue to be met and that they remain moving in the right direction. Parents, who understand and work with their children on how to appropriately cope with the real world, can develop an extremely deep bond with their child that they may never have accomplished otherwise. The key is to prevent the meltdowns before they occur, which is much easier than managing them once they have happened. A few tips to help prevent a meltdown would be avoid boredom, change environments, establish routines, choose your battles, give children control and choice over little things when you can, make sure children have a safe environment and are well rested and fed with a healthy diet, increase your tolerance level and very importantly, keep a sense of humor.

Original article


Aspergers Meltdown, How to Cope:



Be Safe Campaign Teaches Life Saving Skills

Emily Iland is the mother of her 30-year-old autistic son, who has grown into an independent and productive member of society. He lives on his own, holds a college degree, and works as an accountant. Before he was independent though, his mother spent many years advocating on his behalf. Now that her son is independent she is pushing to train autistic students, young adults, and adults alike on how to appropriately react to being stopped by a police officer.

People on the spectrum are actually seven times more likely than someone not on the spectrum to be involved with law officers as a victim, witness, or offender. In these interactions, autistics may act inappropriately, misread social cues, or become overwhelmed in a stressful situation.

Since 2007, Illand has been trying to train Los Angeles Police Department officers on how to recognize and interact with people who are on the spectrum. However, as much training as she would give the LAPD there was only so much they could do. “The police told me something,” she says, “If someone runs, you have to chase them. If someone puts their hand in their waistband, they have to assume they are reaching for a weapon. Even if they know that the person has autism, they have to respond to what they see.” This feedback made her realize the importance of training those on the spectrum, the appropriate skills to deal with law enforcement scenarios.

As part of her “Be Safe” campaign, Iland gives a few simple tips; don’t reach into your pocket, stay calm, show them your hands, if you are handcuffed or put into a patrol car try to be quiet, patient, and still, and if you are arrested make sure to tell the officers you have a disability and would like to speak to a lawyer. The “Be Safe” campaign included a DVD that features young people with autism role-playing police encounters, as well as a guidebook for parents, teachers, and counselors.

The video is based on real life cases where autistic individuals were misunderstood by law enforcement because they didn’t react with the appropriate social response, thus putting themselves in unnecessarily dangerous situations with the law. One mother, after watching the video, said about her autistic son who just got his license, “I worry about him all the time. He needs to know what to expect and how his actions are being perceived by police officers. He needs to know not to run, not to panic. I need to be able to trust his to let the officers do their job.”

Ever year, approximately 50,000 teenagers on the autism spectrum enter into adulthood and more recently because of expanding therapeutic services and programs, are able to enter the workforce, get a driver’s license, and be a part of mainstream society. It will be increasingly important for young adults, especially, who are on the spectrum, to have the appropriate skills to allow them to be safe and stay safe.

To read the original article, click HERE

Summertime Safety

Keeping an eye on your child can be a challenging task especially now that summer is here and kids want to play outside or go to parks and beaches with their families. This task can be especially challenging for families with autistic children. And water safety concerns are also particularly heightened for families of children with autism, says Varleisha Gibbs, OTD, OTR/L, occupational therapy professor at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

“Although water safety is a concern for all parents, children with autism are especially at a higher risk fordrowning because they may seek isolation by fleeing to unfamiliar territories,” says Dr. Gibbs. Drowning actually accounted for approximately 90 percent of the total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism ages 14 and younger, according to statistics from the National Autism Society. Research shows that about 50% of children with autism tend to flee or escape a safe environment and put themselves in dangerous situations. Dr. Gibbs outlines some tips for families during this hot summer:

  • Learn to swim: enroll your child in swimming or water safety classes as soon as possible
  • Visual learning: Use videos and images to talk to your child about water safety
  • Display reminders: if your child responds well to visual cues, consider posting signs on doors that lead to outside such as STOP or DO NOT ENTER, or even a hand signaling “stop”
  • Key information: Make sure your child knows his or her name, address, and phone number in case of an emergency. If they are nonverbal, they should wear a bracelet or have theiridentification information on them at all times.
  • Avoid sensory-overload: Try to prepare your child ahead of time for what they can expect as they enter a new environment such as a beach or theme park.
  • Alert others: Communicate with your neighbors and others in your community to alert you immediately if they see children wandering by themselves. 

“Swimming and aquatic therapy is actually a wonderful sport for children with autism because it can address many of their body’s sensory and motor needs. By preparing and communicating with your child with autism, family, and friends, summer trips and activities can be much less stressful and more enjoyable,” says Dr. Gibbs.

Making Global Connections at Shema Kolainu

Dilara Mitu discussing how to help poverty stricken children with disabilities in Bangladesh with Dr. Joshua Weinstein, CEO & Founder of Shema Kolainu & ICare4Autism

Today Dilara Mitu, Managing Trustee and Director of the SEID Trust took the time to visit Shema Kolainu in the hopes of starting a collaborative relationship and learn some best practices used at the center. The SEID Trust is an NGO in Bangladesh that is a voluntary development organization working towards promoting the rights of underprivileged children with disabilities, especially those with ASD. It specifically serves poverty stricken children within the community who need the resources the most; they do this through their own fundraising efforts, as they are not publicly funded.

Ms. Mitu met with Dr. Weinstein, CEO & Founder of Shema Kolainu and ICare4Autism, to discuss ways in which she could help the children and the larger community that she serves. After attending the 2014 International ICare4Autism Conference this past June 30th thru July 2nd, she says that she was able to learn a lot. When she heard about the conference there was no doubt in her mind that it would be worthwhile. She says the expenses that she paid to make the trip was nothing compared to the insights and knowledge that she gained from the 3 days. She especially enjoyed the presentations by Anat Baniel and Martha Herbert who gave her different perspectives in which to learn about ASD and best practices.

Ms. Mitu has a strong belief in simply having faith in children and promoting their abilities so that they can be productive members of society similar to Shema Kolainu and ICare4Autism’s goals. Dr. Weinstein was enthusiastic to learn about her organization’s commitment to giving autistic children a voice of their own and also listened to many of the challenges they faced in doing so.

After having an constructive discussion, she was then given a tour of the center so that she could see for herself the practices they had discussed. Overall we are excited to have another organization reach out and are more than happy to share resources. ICare4Autism is dedicated to its mission of collaborating on an international level so that people on the spectrum are able to live more fruitful and happy lives. We thank Ms. Mitu for her visit and will be keeping in touch!

AutismCare Nepal Collaborates with ICare4Autism

Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya meets with Dr. Joshua Weinstein to discuss Autism awareness initiatives.

On the morning of Tuesday, May 27th, Shema Kolainu welcomed an incredible Autism advocate, Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya, Chairperson for AutismCare Nepal. Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya met with Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Founder and CEO of ICare4Autism and Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices, School and Center for Children with Autism, to discuss the importance of bringing Autism awareness to the nation of Nepal.

Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya had previously attended a conference for ICare4Autism, as she had received a scholarship to the 2012 ICare4Autism International Conference in Jerusalem. She presented research entitled “Autism Diagnosis: A Challenge in Nepal”, which revealed the many difficulties facing those with Autism in her nation. Primarily, doctors and parents cannot easily distinguish if a child has Autism, and therefore they waste precious time that could be used for early intervention and other treatment opportunities.

Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya receives a tour of the classrooms at Shema Kolainu. (From L-R: Gili Rechany, Educational Director for Shema Kolainu, Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Founder and CEO of Shema Kolainu and ICare4Autism, Suri Gruen, Program Director for Shema Kolainu, and Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya of AutismCare Nepal.)

AutismCare Nepal Society (ACN) is the only active Autism society in the country of Nepal that is run by parents of children with Autism. The society aims to provide help and support for individuals with Autism, in order to improve their quality of life, give them a sense of purpose, and include them into communities. Not only do they want to shed light on Autism, but they want to educate others about the disorder as well as serve as advocates for the rights of Autistic children in Nepal.

Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya met with Dr. Weinstein to discuss the need to create more opportunities for those with Autism disorders in Nepal, which includes the development of inclusive educational programs for children with the disorder. Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya was able to tour Shema Kolainu and see just how beneficial the programs are to the education and wellbeing of each child. ICare4Autism aims to work with ACN as part of a Nepal Autism Initiative. The collaboration will help provide information about Autism disorders to families and give suggestions for early intervention.

Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya discusses Autism initiatives in Nepal with Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Suri Gruen and Gili Rechany.


Health Coverage for Autistic Children

Michael Giangregorio, Vice President of Trading Services at JP Morgan has a 12-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. The costs for special schooling and speech and occupational therapy can rack up to the thousands as children get older. His current employer, JP Morgan, recently announced that they will be providing comprehensive autism coverage for expensive therapies such as Applied Behavioral Analysis in its 2014 health plan.

According to a 2012 research study done by the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics costs for people with autism can amount to over $1 million in treatment over their lifespan. An increasing number of major companies, such as General Motors Co., Chrysler Group, and American Express Co., are also announcing this year that they will be including at least partial coverage in their company’s healthcare plan.

Congress is also making moves to implement similar coverage policies. The House took a vote on Friday to send a bill to the Senate that would make it mandatory for insurance companies to provide coverage and treatment for children in Kansas who have been diagnosed with autism. The results were 114-3, and the bill pushes on to the Senate where they will continue the debate on this legislation.

This coverage would help many families in coping with treatment costs for their children, including roughly 1,000 children in Kansas who would be covered under the law. The bill includes guidelines on the number of hours autistic children are allotted to receive these services as well as well as age limits. Insurance companies would have to provide coverage for applied behavioral analysis for up to 25 hours per week for four years after a child is diagnosed. Once the child approaches the age of 12, the number of hours covered is lowered to 10.

Some critics of this bill argue that it is unfair to mandate specific services for their insurance to cover. They believe that this legislation interferes too much into the policies that insurance companies already have. However, legislators, such as Rep. Stan Frownfelter, a Kansas City Democrat is pushing against this criticism by saying, “I didn’t know I worked for insurance companiesWe’re here to represent the people.”

Although the future of this bill remains uncertain, we are excited to know that major companies at least have initiated and implemented this push for coverage, with stories such as Michael Giangregario paving the way. Giangregario has also voiced his support with our Director of Strategic Alliances at ICare4Autism, affiliated organization to Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices, in working together with industry professionals to implement positive change for autistic children.



Toys for Children with Autism

Toys can have a very positive impact on the development of children with autism spectrum syndrome. Choosing the right toys that will entertain your child and at the same time encourage development could be challenging. Toys are a big part of the development program at the Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices.

Keep in mind that ability of the child is more important than age recommendation when you are choosing toys for kids with autism.  Simple toys like puzzles and mazes will help your child to focus on completing tasks and will bring a sense of achievement.  Any type of painting or drawing will be great because working with tools will help improve your child’s motor skills.  Board games could be amazing entertainment for the whole family and it will improve the social skills of a child.

Besides regular toys, you can choose from a variety of electronic resources, apps and DVDs that are designed for children with special needs. Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices School use iPad apps such as Buddy Bear app and PlayHome.

Model Me Kids, www.modelmekids.com, specializes in creating toys that focus on the development of social skills, by teaching children how to express emotions and the proper usage of body language. Another company, TeaChildMath, www.teachildmath.comwill help with improving basic knowledge of math and will enhance motor and writing skills of the child.

Generally any toys would be extremely helpful with connection, improvement of social skills and overall development.

For original story, please click here.


It is never too early to start thinking about transitions for your child. One of the biggest transitions will be from school to a workplace. Shema Kolainu understands the challenges that individuals with autism will face while searching for a job. That is why we will include the Global Autism Workforce Initiative in our International Autism Conference on June 30, 2014. This part of the conference will be specifically dedicated to developing and promoting Autism Workforce Programs.

A lot of businesses have started to realize that individuals with autism have a lot of talents that they can bring to a company. Some of the companies that are providing jobs for individuals with autism are ASP, Semperical and Walgreens. Andy Travaglia, owner at Lee & Marie’s Cakery and Bar Crudo in New York employs adults with autism. Andy organized her own bakery business because she had a dream to help people with autism by providing them with a workplace.

Employment not only gives financial independence for those with autism, but also an ability to gain social skills and self-confidence. People on the autism spectrum may take a longer time to train, but when they are ready to perform, autistic workers make exceptionally hardworking and reliable employees.

For more information about our conference, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2014-icare4autism-international-autism-conference-registration-10555077521

Original story http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shortorder/2014/03/andrea_travaglia_owner_of_lee.php

The Basketball League for Children with Autism.




Sport therapy is important for kids with autism and at the same time it could be a great challenge for them. Some of the issues are motor functioning problems, difficulty in planning and low motivation. Exercise and team sports, such as soccer, baseball and flag football, can be a great benefit to improve these problems and also enhance the quality of everyday life for children with autism. We have talked about yoga and martial arts, having a positive impact on the behavior of children with autism, but how about a real team sport such as basketball?

The Minnesota Autism center organized a Basketball league for children with autism about three years ago. This Autism center in South Central Minnesota is a non-profit organization that support families affected by autism. The basketball league is a great success for the center and the Minnesota community.   Team sports help these kids learn how to communicate with each other and how to express themselves in a small group and listening to a coach give directions.   With every ball in the basket, kid’s faces light up with pride. The ability to accomplish goal, compete and to work with a group significantly boosts their confidence, which increases children overall happiness.


Original story http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/03/18/league-introduces-team-sports-to-kids-with-autism/


New York Autistic-Friendly Disney Live Show

We, at Shema Kolainu are very excited about the autism-friendly Disney live show that will take place during Autism Awareness month in New York . The Theater Fund has helped organize autism friendly performances for young children and adults in the past, including famous Broadway shows like “Lion King,”  “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” and “Wicked”. This time Fund created an autism-friendly show by calibrating with Feld Entertainment, Inc. with main focus on younger audience.

Most children with autism cannot attend regular theaters as well as  movie theaters, due to the anxiety they get during the performance or movie. This show is constructed without strobe lights and loud sounds, specifically to make autistic children comfortable. Also, venue will have quiet areas with coloring books, beanbag chairs and autism experts. This calibration will provide a new place where New York  families will be able to engage with their kids. “Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure” will open doors on April 19, 2014 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.







“This image released by The Theatre Development Fund shows the cast of ‘Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure.’ ”

Original story http://www.tdf.org/TDF_SupportPage.aspx?id=137

To learn more about autism please click here http://www.shemakolainu.org/newsite/What is Autism